The Best Books of 2010

Vocoders, bohos, and a blast of vertigo—Village Voice writers pick their faves of the year

Skippy Dies
by Paul Murray (Faber and Faber, 661 pp., $28)
Intrigue, lust, psychoactive drugs, interdimensional travel, and perhaps the worst classical music quartet ever to grace a stage all matriculate at the boy's boarding school in which Paul Murray sets Skippy Dies. This outsize comic novel offers a portrait of male adolescence at once droll and strangely affecting. Too clever by half and too long by perhaps a third, the book displays wonderful liberality—no character is forgotten, no skein of plot ignored, no theme neglected. Like the doughnuts among which Skippy expires, this book is happily overstuffed, if sadly lacking in lickable chocolate icing. (Alexis Soloski)

Witz
by Joshua Cohen (Dalkey Archive, 824 pp., $18.95)
Sure, Cohen's novel of the last Jew on Earth is as winding, short on final punctuation, and prolix as everybody says it is, but it's also inventive—a constantly detaching and reattaching foreskin and an alien named Herr Doktor Professor Froid both feature. Witz's mania works because it's never less than really funny—funny about families, nostalgia, victimhood, religion, and, most of all, about language itself, which Cohen ties into knots. Or maybe we should say knots into ties? (Zach Baron)

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